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An Update From the ATTA Community in Ecuador

12 January 2024

Voices From the Field is a space for the benefit of our members to build awareness within our global community. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily ATTA’s, nor do we endorse them by their publication.

Thank you to the following members of the ATTA community who have contributed statements below:

  • Marcel Perkins, Latin Trails
  • Maria Eugenia de Aliaga, Tropic Travel
  • Jorge Pérez, Tierra del Volcan
  • Niels Olsen Peet, Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador

Marcel Perkins, Latin Trails

10 January 2024

Just a quick note. Today we were going to work from home. Due to the tension in Ecuador and the stress we felt it would be best everyone stay home and work from there and avoid the unnecessary traffic in Quito.

I woke up feeling the need to go to the office.

So I decided to make my way to the office. To my surprise I found most of the team there. They all felt they needed to be together in these difficult times. Everyone traveled from their homes today and confirmed Quito is calm and peaceful as always has been.

Just to let you know how things are in Ecuador today.

Maria Eugenia de Aliaga, Tropic Travel

11 January 2024

Dear friends and colleagues,

Unfortunately this year started with incidents of violence and riots at prisons, mostly in coastal areas of Ecuador (Guayaquil, Esmeraldas).
After the tumultuous events earlier this week, we are pleased to report that calm has returned to the streets today, allowing us to once again explore the beautiful natural and historical corners of our country.

To provide context, we currently have 39 groups on tour. Among them, 17 groups experienced minor itinerary changes in Quito and Guayaquil, with successful transitions from planned old town city tours to engaging experiences at the Middle of the World and Cotopaxi.

Here are a couple of testimonials from our clients:

"Hi Olivia, today worked out terrifically! Everything we did was fabulous and fun. Daniel and Gabriel were great! I appreciate all the efforts put into changing the itinerary, and we are enjoying the hacienda. Thanks again."

"An hour after I sent this email, a bottle of wine arrived at our room. Thank you so much for the gesture. Also, Eduardo, our guide, called after I emailed you to let us know we are going to Cotopaxi tomorrow, so that sounds just wonderful to us. Amazing experience so far! P.S. They have heightened security posted in the lobby of the hotel. I guess they are really on high alert after that guy went missing!! Fortunately, we aren't fussed by these types of incidents!"

What happened earlier this week:

Incidents of violence and riots at prisons, mostly in coastal areas of Ecuador (Guayaquil, Esmeraldas). This situation has escalated to the streets, and Ecuador's mainland, particularly Guayaquil, is currently facing a challenging safety situation. Guayaquil has experienced several attacks by illegal armed groups. The government, in response, has swiftly deployed the army as part of the state of exception declared on the 9th of January. While the situation may appear concerning, we are confident that the measures taken will soon have a positive impact.

As a quick update, the curfew remains in effect until further notice. However, we are delighted to inform you that hotels, attractions, national parks, airports, roads, and hotel infrastructure are all operating normally.

In line with our commitment to prioritizing safety, we are meticulously reviewing each client file on the ground, with a particular focus on immediate operations for this week. Daily reviews are in progress to minimize any disruptions to our clients' experiences.

Currently, we have implemented the following precautionary measures:

Avoiding Excursions in Guayaquil: Given the recent incidents, all excursions in Guayaquil are temporarily suspended.

Transferring Clients to Airport Hotels in Guayaquil: To ensure the safety and comfort of our clients, we are moving them to airport hotels in Guayaquil.

Operating Normally in Quito: Churches, plazas, shops, and experiences in Quito are operating normally.

Our "On Tour" team is contacting all our passengers on the ground, giving them reassurance and ensuring their safety. As always, our sales team is available in case you want to review upcoming trips and make changes, which, at this point, we don't find necessary.

While we are not unconcerned, at this point, we don’t think there is a security problem that could prevent travelers from coming to other areas of Mainland Ecuador, nor Galapagos, which hasn’t seen any violence whatsoever.

At this point we have contacted all our clients on the ground and all excursions are unfolding without any problem. 

We invite you to check our blog for regular updates, and to watch this video we filmed on an afternoon excursion in beautiful Quito. If you need any further information please feel free to reach us at mariaeugenia.dealiaga@tropiceco.com or at [email protected].

Jorge Pérez, Tierra del Volcan

There has been a lot of news lately regarding violence in Ecuador.  We’ve watched many of these reports ourselves, and we know firsthand how confusing it can be to get accurate, timely information about what’s going on.  We have asked ourselves many of the same questions you’ve been asking us, so I wanted to give you an update firsthand. If you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out - we want to hear from you.

The past Sunday, January 7th, a narco-leader escaped from prison in Guayaquil, located at the coast region of Ecuador, and created a wave of violence to prove how powerful he is. His men kidnaped a Television Studio that belongs to the government located in Guayaquil City. Also, the narco-terrorist band kidnapped four police officers. This is Latin America! The reality here is always similar to magic realism!

Due to this incident, the Ecuadorian government, as a safety measure, declared a state of exception on the 8th of January to give the government the freedom to allocate resources to safety and security matters. The state of emergency has a 60-day validity, and it involves a curfew from 23H00 to 05H00 in the country. The state of emergency allows freedom of movement and normal operation of the tourism industry. All airports, restaurants, hotels, and national parks are open during regular working hours.

How does this affect our industry? 

First, Tierra del Volcan lodges are safe and open for business.

All travelers in Ecuador are free of any violent incidents created by this attack. Hotels, national parks, and airports are open with new safety measures, and public transportation and roads are open for free circulation. Rural areas in the Andes, Amazon, and The Galapagos Islands, are safe to visit and free of threats. Most violence has happened in cities on the coast. 

Please talk to us before changing your clients' travel plans to Ecuador. Our priority is to keep all the tourism partners informed and safe. We will give you a professional safety assessment of the situation and options for your guest to keep enjoying this unique destination, Ecuador.

Niels Olsen Peet, Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador

To the tourism community,

Amidst the evolving security landscape in our country, the Ministry of Tourism wishes to provide a clear and updated perspective on the scope of recent events and their impact on the tourism sector. The states of emergency declared by the President of the Republic aim to reestablish peaceful coexistence in the country for both Ecuadorian citizens and visitors. This measure is necessary to effectively confront those threatening the stability throughout the territory.

We wish to emphasize that, despite the state of emergency, movement to and from the airports is
permitted. This ensures that travelers can arrive and depart from Ecuador without hindrance.
Connectivity to all air destinations is enabled. Maritime ports, and airports are operating normally, and additional security measures have been implemented at the terminals to ensure the safety of travelers. Ecuador's roads and public transportation are fully operational, except during curfew hours. We have strategically bolstered security, with increased police and military vigilance to heightened protection.

Currently, there is no prohibition on entry, and no incidents of violence have been recorded in the
Galápagos Islands, the Amazon Region, or National Parks; the main tourist destinations of Ecuador. Hotels and other tourism services are providing attention and assistance to our guests as usual. However, we advise visitors to stay informed and follow the safety recommendations provided by their accommodations and tour operators.

The Government of the Republic of Ecuador, law enforcement, and tourism authorities are working tirelessly to ensure that tourists' visits to our country are as enriching and safe as always.

Looking ahead, we want to convey a message of confidence to our future visitors: Ecuador, with its natural and cultural diversity, remains a captivating and safe destination. We will continue to welcome all travelers with open arms; our tradition of warm hospitality endures. The Ministry of Tourism will consistently provide updates on this information through our official channels: X @TurismoEc and our Facebook page at/MinisterioTurismoEcuador.